Saturday, October 27, 2018

Great "New" Web Site and 600 Free University Classes

...New to me, anyway: Quartz! (

(I found it in my usual way, surfing the Net for news, to keep from getting around to doing what I had sat down in front of the computer to do.)

Image result for university campus image freeAnd here's one article I've already found on

"190 universities just launched 600 free online courses. Here's the full list."

Just to pique your interest, here are some of the categories, and some of the courses, being offered:


Getting Started With [Insert here every single new and some old programming languages for every single game, app, and device in the world]. Really. No kidding.


"Engineering the Space Shuttle" --- Amazing! Who wouldn't want to know how to do that?

Various other classes on semiconductors, robotics, electric cars, policy, motors and motor control circuitry, and on and on and on.

Computer Science: 

Machine learning, AI, computer cloud security, blockchain....and on and on and on.

Social Sciences:

Political science, American government and Constitutional foundation (There's one we should all take!), Research Skills for Conducting Interviews, gender identity, child welfare systems, urban planning, business management, global politics, contemporary issues in global politics... and on and on and on.


Climate change, quantum states, nitrogen and nitrogen cycles, equine research, sharing data, building a quantum computer (Really???? Amazing!!!!), nuclear reactor physics basics, zoology, astronomy, Black Holes, Climate Adaptation in South Africa, citizen research....and on and on and on.

Art & Design:

"18th-Century Opera: Handel & Mozart" (That's one I'm definitely going to look into), "Guitar Scales and Chord Progressions" (This one, too), Sustainability in Architecture, Realistic 3D Architectural Modeling, Creative Thinking, "Music Psychology (Why Does Bohemian Rhapsody Feel So Good?)" (This one, too)....and on and on and on.

And on and on and on. I'm not going to go through each category as I've done above, because, you know, my personal mantra, "Life is short!", so here are the last few categories. Enjoy!

Mathematics ("Vector and Matrix Algebra"---not for me); Humanities ("Othello's Story"---another one I want to take!); Business; Health & Medicine; Data Science; Education & Teaching; and Personal Development.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Fiction Friday, Oct. 26, 2018: Bad Books

I know you're not supposed to write reviews where you just carp on how bad a book is, and 
I know most authors try really hard to write a good book, and 
I know I haven't been able to write a better one than even the worst ones I've read, so

That's why I'm not writing the title or the author's name here, and
That's why I'm just going to write here a list of my pet peeves about all bad books, and
That's why I'm offering to send this book to any of my readers who think they might like it.

Pet peeves and other comments:

1. Show, don't tell. I mean, really. 

2. No, you're not the first one to write a so-called steamy love scene. Nor the first one to think it would be great as the opening scene of your novel. And....wait for it....not the first one to make a reader so angry and frustrated at your clumsiness that she threw the book down on the floor.

3. Get an editor. I mean, really, get an editor. I will be happy to be your editor. No, not YOUR editor, bad writer of bad book, but if anyone you know ever happens to write a book that has some promise of being readable and not-throwable-downable, I'll edit it for that person.

4. Read this essay. "Politics and the English Language," by George Orwell. See, I've found it online for you, so all you have to do is follow the link, and you can read it. You won't have to go through your old college textbooks to find it, and I write this knowing, absolutely knowing, that you did read this essay in college (or at least you should have), and I forgive you for having forgotten it, but, still, please, do read it again. 

5. There's more, but these are the ones I'm willing to take time to enumerate at this early hour, before I get back to doing my own, my real, my pressing and important work. Because life is too short to waste any more time than I already have on this book....

6.....which, by the way, I will send to anyone, as I mentioned earlier. Just write a comment here or send me an email message with your name and address, and I'll get this book to you asap. But you must promise to write back to tell me the rest of the plot (after that stupid steamy pile of opening scene which made me throw the book on the floor) and offer your own review, which I will include in a future blog post here, or not, if you'd prefer. Just so you tell me about it.

7. Orwell notes in his essay that while it is not about "literary" but political writing, the rules still apply to all writing. I'm not going to enumerate them here because he has already done it better than I ever could.  Here are Orwell's rules:

  1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

And now, Dear Reader, one final comment. One good thing about finding that Bad Book is that it has given me a chance to think again about good writing. And that brings me to another great essay by George Orwell,  "Shooting an Elephant." I'm linking to it here so you can read (re-read) it. And I will re-read it too.

Thanks for your patience. And, now, on with the day! 

Rho Ophiuchi

Check this out:

Let's see if I can import the photo here, in case you don't want to, or can't, follow that link.

You should really follow the link to find 15 amazing photos from space. But here's the info about the photo above, from

The Rho Ophiuchi Nebular ComplexCredit: Warren Keller/Jim Misti/Steve MazlinThe Rho Ophiuchi nebular complex is a beautiful, gigantic cloud of colorful cosmic dust and gas located 460 light-years from Earth in the constellation Ophiuchus. It's one of the closest stellar nurseries to the solar system and one of the most-photographed objects in the night sky. Astrophotographers Warren Keller, Jim Misti and Steve Mazlin teamed up to create this stunning 4-panel mosaic of the nebula, "I think its dusky and mysterious aura as compared to the generally brighter, super-saturated ones, is what's alluring," Keller told

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Weird Word of the Week: Pleached

I read this word in "Lud-in-the-Mist," by Hope Mirrlees. I'm just barely on page 8 of the book, and I'm finding more new words.

According to Google, to pleach means "to entwine or interlace tree branches to form a hedge or provide cover for an outdoor walkway."

And here's a great photo of some pleached crab apple trees:

Image result for pleached

(The book "Lud-in-the-Mist" seems to be a very unusual fairy tale....I'll let you know more about it in an upcoming Fiction Friday post.)

The most beautiful song in the world

Go ahead and argue with me, but I've just discovered it, and I'm sticking to it, for now. 

I used to think it was the aria "Un bel di vendremo" in Puccini's "Madama Butterfly." Here's a short video where you get a bit of the song in the glorious Metropolitan Opera's production---starting at the 1-minute mark. I saw this production on PBS once and cried most of the way through,  And check out the interview with the amazing singer toward the end.

But now I realize it's "Una Furtiva Lagrima," from Act II, Scene 3, of "L'elisir d'amore," by Gaetano Donizetti. According to Wikipedia, "It is sung by Nemorino (tenor) when he finds that the love potion he bought to win the heart of his dream lady, Adina, works. Nemorino is in love with Adina, but she is not interested in a relationship with an innocent, rustic man. To win her heart, Nemorino buys a love potion with all the money he has in his pocket. That love potion is actually a cheap red wine sold by a traveling quack doctor, but when he sees Adina weeping, he knows that she has fallen in love iwth him, and he is sure that the 'elixir' has worked."

Here is this aria or romanza as sung by Luciano Pavarotti. Check it out. And go back to the Wikipedia page to find the words in Italian, a literal translation, and a "poetic translation." 

Wait, here's a better version, I think, sung by Matthew Polenzani. And this version has the English words on the screen, a different translation than in the Pavarotti version. And, what's even better, Mr. Polenzani is actually acting the part of Nemorino, instead of acting the part of a famous opera star. Also, I loved scrolling down and reading the comments by the opera aficionados.

Wait, I'm changing my mind again, listening to "Un bel di" over and over again. Now I think this is the best song ever. Here's Maria Callas singing it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Advice from a bishop....

....for Mormons who don't "know" the Church is true: 

For one thing, Bishop Richard Ostler writes, "I avoid telling people just to be more faithful." And, he writes, "I accept that not everyone will fit into the 'I know' crowd." He continues: 
I have so much respect for those who share their testimony and use less absolute phrases than “I know.” Maybe that is the best some are able to do now. I’ve met many of these wonderful members and see firsthand all they do to help and faithfully serve others. Often they have unique Christlike attributes and gifts. They are the best of the best. Maybe for some “I don’t know” is their destination for this lifetime … not just a temporary stop.Richard Ostler

His other points: 
I resist the temptation to bear testimony “at” this group. 
I work on truly listening. 
I trust that they are receiving personal revelation. 
I know my own testimony is a work in progress.
I focus on strengths.  
I strive to make a bigger tent. 

Great advice! (And do read the whole blog post)

Thursday, October 4, 2018

William Tell Overture

So beautiful! As one commenter wrote, "I didn't need to see a pastoral scene, a violent storm, a rising sun, or The Lone Ranger on Silver, it was in the music!."